Even the most experienced marathoners sometimes one critical step to their routine: fueling their bodies appropriately both before and after a long-distance race. The ideal runner's diet consists of the proper balance of carbohydrates and protein, designed to maximize performance and promote recovery. When you toe the starting line, be confident in yourself by working these foods into your pre-race routine?

Coffee

Taken with ample time to let it work through your system, coffee is an ideal pre-race energizer. A little bit of caffeine can help to wake up your body while keeping you warm. But because coffee is diuretic, take care to make sure it is consumed about one hour before race time.

Nuts

Long-distance runners need healthy joints to function at peak performance, and a diet full of inflammation-reducing nuts is one of the best things you can do for joint health. Runners should aim to consume about five servings of heart-healthy nuts per week for optimal benefits.

Beets

As one of trendiest health foods on the market today, beets are especially beneficial to long-distance runners. Because the natural nitrates in this vegetable reduce the amount of oxygen a body needs to function correctly, muscles do not need to work as hard to do the same grueling work.


A long-distance runner knows that proper fueling does not stop once you cross the finish line. It is imperative to feed your body an ideal mix of liquids and food to recover more quickly and more efficiently. Here are a few foods to get you started on the road to recovery:

Chocolate Milk

There is a reason why chocolate milk is readily available at many finish lines. The protein provides essential nutrients for muscle rebuilding, while the sweetness gives a surge of much-needed carbs for energy and recovery.

Fruit

Who doesn't want a juicy orange slice after finishing a long race? The naturally occurring liquids in fruits such as oranges, watermelon, and berries work to replenish lost hydration while also giving a shot of fiber to help restore digestive function.

Beef

Many marathoners suffer from low iron stores. This mineral is especially crucial to runners, as it aids the transport of oxygen from the lungs to the muscle, helping boost recovery. So go ahead and enjoy that post-run steak!


This is a general list; each runner’s body is slightly different, and so may need different nutrients to work at peak performance. For example, if you tend to suffer post-race joint pain, a supplement like Primal (Amazon) may be your best friend. Or if you suffer from persistent muscle cramping/soreness, a supplement like BCAA (Amazon) can make a big difference. Talk to your sports physician to customize a diet and supplement plan for your needs.